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The Practice Management Knowledge Community (PMKC) identifies and develops information on the business of architecture for use by the profession to maintain and improve the quality of the professional and business environment.  The PMKC initiates programs, provides content and serves as a resource to other knowledge communities, and acts as experts on AIA Institute programs and policies that pertain to a wide variety of business practices and trends.


Practice FAQ: How do I create a business plan to start an architectural firm?

By Ashley Harvey posted 06-01-2018 06:13 PM


When discussing the creation of their firms, many architects will state “I went to school to be an architect, not a business owner.” Ironically, that is the exact position aspiring leaders find themselves in when they’ve decided to start their own firms. A business plan is one of the key components to convey the organizational structure and goals for your new business.

Creating your business plan

The AIA Small Firm Exchange has researched various business models to determine which are the best options to sustain an architectural practice. The SFx Business Plan Template has been created to assist architects in developing and evaluating sustainable business practices. Though created with small firms being the primary audience for the business plan template, the information provided can be adapted to firms of any size.  

Other resources to explore when creating a business plan offer various tips to consider when building your plan.  In “How to Draft a Business Plan”, Nate Berg states a good business plan is a living document and should be updated to keep up with the changes of the firm, market and business goals.

Find a mentor

A mentor is an effective way to tap into knowledge from a firm owner that can provide firsthand experience with developing a business plan as well as provide effective business strategies. The significance of a mentoring program is described in the Architect’s Handbook of Professional Practice. One of the key benefits of a mentoring program is stated as “helping a firm achieve its vision by supporting… long-range strategic and business plan goals” (DeBernard, 491).

Building your firm

Setting aside time to thoroughly map out the potential course of your business will make a great impact in the future. Planning for the highs and lows associated with running a business as discussed in “How to build a small firm” will help you think critically about your business’ future and give you the foresight to handle any situation accordingly.

Works Cited:

Berg, Nate. “How to Draft a Business Plan.” Architect Magazine, July 15, 2014,

DeBernard, Deborah M., AIA, NCARB, Architect-AIBC, LEED BD+C “8.4 Professional Development and Mentoring”.

The Architect’s Handbook to Professional Practice, Fifteenth Edition. Ed. R. L. Hayes, Ph.D., AIA Editor-in-Chief. Hoboken. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2014. Pgs. 491 - 498. Print.